Tech gi­ants bat­tle to es­tab­lish their place in smart home revo­lu­tion

Outlook - - CONTENTS - By Ro­main Fon­seg­rives

It seems like it won’t be long be­fore our homes and gad­gets are run­ning our lives for us, and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tors are look­ing to take ad­van­tage of this in­evitable pro­gres­sion in the fight to cor­ner the smart home mar­ket.

It's long been the stuff of sci­ence fic­tion, but tech gi­ants hope the "smart home," where gad­gets talk to each other and the fridge or­ders the milk, will soon be­come re­al­ity.

The fu­tur­is­tic vi­sion of wire­less do­mes­tic bliss that puts peo­ple and their smart­phones or tablets at the cen­tre of an "In­ter­net of Things" is a key theme at this year's IFA con­sumer elec­tron­ics fair in Berlin.

In­dus­try titans such as Google, Sam­sung and Ap­ple have been bat­tling for an early lead in the race to cre­ate the In­ter­net-con­nected house­hold, a mar­ket they ex­pect to grow into the next multi-bil­lion-dol­lar tech revo­lu­tion.

The smart home is head­ing "to­wards a mass-mar­ket re­al­ity", said Lisa Ar­row­smith of mar­ket re­search firm IHS.

The new driv­ing force, she said, is "the rise of the smart­phone and its role as a common user in­ter­face to al­low re­mote and in-home con­trol of de­vices such as ther­mostats, smart plugs or se­cu­rity sys­tems".

Talk of cre­at­ing the "au­to­mated home" has been around since at least the 1980s, but was hob­bled by tech­ni­cal hur­dles, from tan­gled ca­bles to costly in­ter­faces and com­pat­i­bil­ity prob­lems be­tween ap­pli­ance man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Now the dream is back with a vengeance as com­pa­nies fore­see a world of synced de­vices, where mo­torists re­motely switch on the heat­ing as they drive home, and hol­i­day­mak­ers watch over their

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